Page:Black Beauty (1877).djvu/168

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164
BLACK BEAUTY.

and gashed with fearful sabre-cuts; though we left them dead on the field, or dying in agony of their wounds, I don't think I feared for myself. My master's cheery voice, as he encouraged his men, made me feel as if he and I could not be killed. I had such perfect trust in him, that whilst he was guiding me, I was ready to charge up to the very cannon's mouth. I saw many brave men cut down, many fall mortally wounded from their saddles. I had heard the cries and groans of the dying, I had cantered over ground slippery with blood, and frequently had to turn aside to avoid trampling on wounded man or horse, but, until one dreadful day, I had never felt terror; that day, I shall never forget."

Here old Captain paused for awhile and drew a long breath; I waited, and he went on.

"It was one autumn morning, and as usual, an hour before day-break our cavalry had turned out, ready caparisoned for the day's work, whether it might be fighting or waiting. The men stood by their horses waiting, ready for orders. As the light increased, there seemed to be some excitement among the officers; and before the day was well begun, we heard the firing of the enemy's guns.

"Then one of the officers rode up and gave the word for the men to mount, and in a second, every man was in his saddle, and every horse stood expecting the touch of the rein, or the pressure of his rider's heels, all animated, all eager; but still we had been trained so well, that except by the champing of our bits, and the restive tossing of our heads from time to time, it could not be said that we stirred.